THE BACKGROUND INFO
I'm sure many of you were surprised to hear we had planned a homebirth. We kept quiet about it because we knew everyone wouldn't necessarily agree with our choice, and there was no point in opening it for debate. I dreamed of a homebirth, it was on my list of things to do before I die, it was something I desperately longed for - to have a birth experience where I felt in control, to bring a baby into the world in a peaceful, comfortable enviromnent, without intimidating people in white coats giving me orders.
Studies have proven planned homebirths to be as safe as, if not safer than hospital births.
For more info on homebirths and hospital births, I recommend watching The business of being born. It’s on netflix as a view immediately movie.
Late on in this pregnancy, Rene and I discussed and prayed about it and decided to go for a homebirth with a midwife. We were able to find a wonderful midwife who took us on under her care (she's amazing by the way!) and we had a back up Dr who agreed to deliver the baby at hospital if there was any emergency.
The rest of the pregnancy went well, baby seemed fine at every check up, all my tests came out clear and we excitedly anticipated the birth.
Then my due date came and went. No big deal, I had expected that. But as the days ticked on I did start to get nervous. I had given birth 4 times before and had pitocin induction every single one of those times. I had never gone into labor spontaneously before and was starting to worry that my body was just incapable of it. Maybe I was broken and just wasn't as good as all these women who are able to just start off labor without help.
We discussed the issue with our midwife and had a plan that if we hadn't had the baby by Monday, when I'd be 42 weeks, I'd go into hospital to be induced. I was devastated, but believed it was necessary. I prayed hard and cried a lot over the issue.
Wednesday morning I felt crampy low down. I put it down to back ache, maybe something muscular. I couldn’t get comfortable all day in any position from this low crampy backache feeling.
Otherwise the day went on as normal. I was tired and grumpy and didn’t get much done. When Rene came home I went out and brought home subway for supper. I just didn’t feel like cooking. After we ate I felt the need to clean the house like crazy so we got to work. Laundry, vacuuming, scrubbing floors, cleaning the bathroom etc. When it was done I felt very satisfied and remember thinking to myself “good, I can have a baby in here now”.
We put the kids to bed and I started having some mild contractions. Nothing to get excited about, pretty much just the same kind I had been having for weeks already. Irregular, not sore, just little tightenings. Rene and I stayed up til 2am talking and playing cards and these tightenings continued, but again I wasn’t thinking much of it. In fact I went to bed discouraged that yet again another day had gone by and I wasn’t in labor.
I woke up at 4.10 am (Thursday) and my first thought was it must be morning and how sad I was that I hadn’t had the baby yet. Then quickly I realized the reason I was awake was I was having a heck of a contraction. Pretty tight and sore. Hmmm maybe this means something might be happening. I laid in bed and a few minutes later another one came, equally as strong. I got up to pee and had lots of bloody show and started feeling hopeful that maybe this is a sign of labor. I was in denial though that I already was in labor.
I went to the computer and typed in my pregnancy journal to the baby. I was talking about our plans for hospital induction and how sad I was about it, and while I typed I kept having to stop for contractions. At 5am I realized I was having a lot of these and maybe I should think about waking Rene. I felt guilty waking him if it wasn’t really labor, but they were pretty strong so I went ahead and got him.
He was very excited and got ready to phone the midwife. I stopped him and said no we can’t phone her and wake her at 5am! What if it’s not really labor and the contractions just stopped? They were sore when they came, but in between time I felt fine. I was still in denial. We agreed to just time them for a while and figure out if we think this is really it. 10 minutes and about 3 strong contractions later we figured we should call her.
Rene spoke with her first then she spoke with me. I had 2 contractions while speaking and I could talk through them, though it was hard. I kept telling her I wasn’t sure if this was really it and I wouldn’t want her coming all the way out to just have to go home again. So she said to drink a big glass of water and call again at 5.40 and we’ll see if things have picked up or not.
I downed the water and things started picking up very fast. I put on my praise music playlist and was singing and praising God for labor and praying that it wouldn’t stop, then when a contraction came I was breathing like I was blowing up a balloon through them. I quickly realized that this type of breathing was making me feel very tense and making it harder to cope with the pain. So I started humming through them instead. A loud, low tone kind of “Mmmmmmmmmmmmm” which helped a lot. It helped me feel somehow like I was controlling them or keeping them under me, whereas the crazy breathing made me feel like they were overwhelming me.
I asked Rene to start setting up the birth pool. I finally believed this was labor. And it was happening fast.
By 5.40 I had Rene call the midwife back and I told him I couldn’t talk this time but I wanted her to come through now! The girls were still sleeping and I was wondering when the best time would be to call our friends who were going to look after them during labor. I decided we’d probably wait until they were up at about 7.40 and ask if she could swing by on the way back from dropping her daughter at school.
Now I couldn’t find a position I was comfortable in. I tried the birthing ball, I tried sitting on the toilet (which I hated, it made things so much more intense and out of control feeling), I tried squatting, I tried walking. Nothing was comfortable. I got a little snappish with Rene and asked when he’d be finished setting up the pool because I needed him to do counter pressure on my back and be there for me. He was fidgeting with the gadgets trying to get the temperature just right. It actually didn’t take long to set up and fill, but it felt like forever to me.
Finally he finished and I had him do counter pressure with massage oil while I sat on the birth ball. It wasn’t very comfortable so I moved through to the couch and laid sort of on my tummy. By the time he got there and got ready to start counter pressure I yelled at him “Don’t do it, I don’t want it now”. I guess I was entering transition but I had no idea. I still thought I had a long time to go. Though these contractions hurt, they were NOTHING compared to the pitocin contractions. I was expecting this to take a while yet.
I had 2 contractions on the couch and then felt very nauseated. I asked Rene to bring me the sick bowl and I took it to the bathroom with me. I threw up a few times after the next contraction and felt all at once like I NEEDED to get in the birth pool. I didn’t know if I should wait for the midwife or not. So I told Rene to call her and ask if I can get in the water, and to tell her I threw up. I knew it was a sign of transition but I still didn’t believe I was in transition.
Next contraction he was on the phone and I yelled “I NEED TO GET IN THAT POOL!!!” He came off the phone and said I could get in. I had one more contraction on the way then I got in. It was about 6.30 am
Ah bliss. The water felt so comfortable. So much better than any of the positions I had tried to get in on dry land. I was happy and safe in there. Next contraction I felt a little pushy. Which completely took my by surprise. I told Rene to phone the midwife back again (just a few minutes after the last time he phoned) to tell her I felt pushy. He told her I felt like pushing and I corrected him “just a little bit, not a lot” which he conveyed to her. But then another one came and I was pushing. I couldn’t hold it back. Instead of the “mmmmmmmmmmmm” this time I was yelling “oohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” very loudly. I sent Rene to get the video camera from the bedroom.
Kaya woke up and walked in the room and asked what was happening. I told her the baby was coming and I asked her to film it. She had not been prepared for this, as I had expected her to be at her friend’s house for the birth. But I felt at the time that she could handle it. She likes to have a job to do. She was so cool and calm the whole time, a total angel.
Next contraction I knew was it. I pushed with all my might, and made a grunting noise, while Kaya held the camera. The bag of waters burst and the head came out. Rene felt for a cord round the neck, but there was none so he sat back and let me do the rest. The next contraction came pretty much right on the tail of that one and out came the rest of the baby. I turned myself around and sat down in the pool and felt for where my baby was, I couldn’t see much in the water. I pulled my own baby straight out of the water and was ecstatic!
Baby didn’t cry right away. I don’t think he knew he had been born yet! It was so peaceful and calm and the water was warm, no bright lights or Drs sticking suctions down his mouth. He just looked around then tried to go back to sleep! I was a little worried that he hadn’t cried yet, but he was a purple color, not blue and I knew he was still getting oxygen from the placenta. It was only a few seconds (though it can feel much longer at the time) before he gave out a beautiful cry.
Then I looked down and saw he was a boy and couldn’t believe it! I declared “it’s a boy!” with total shock in my voice. I hadn’t prepared myself for a boy at all, I was so sure I was having a girl.
Rene phoned the midwife right back and asked what we do now! I asked if we should get out of the water. I started bleeding shortly afterwards which made Rene panic, but I knew it was just a sign that the placenta would be coming soon. I tried to feed Glenn, but he was not very interested in feeding, he was still just sleepy and content.
So I got out of the pool and sat on the toilet, over a bowl, to catch the placenta in. Glenn was still attached to the cord, we got him a hat and had him covered with a towel, and I was just on cloud 9, talking about how perfect he is and how happy I was to have done this amazing thing. I got the shakes on the toilet and was cold, so Rene brought me a cover. Lana woke up and we introduced her to her baby brother! She was still sleepy and couldn’t quite take it in. But she said she needed the bathroom.
So I got up to let her pee, and as I stood there I delivered the placenta and Rene caught it in the bowl. He then went through and covered the bed with plastic sheeting and pads and I made my way over while holding Glenn, and Rene held the bowl with the placenta he was attached to. We got settled on the bed and I think this was when Zoe woke up. She was pretty silent and rather bewildered by this baby. She seemed happy though.
Then the midwife arrived. She was surprised to find us already in bed, not much mess anywhere, baby was not too cold and we were all just smiling and on cloud 9. She came helped Kaya cut the cord, which Kaya did great at! She was not squeamish at all about it. And she checked the baby over and he was fine. She listened to his heart and chest and checked his temperature and looked him over. His gestational age came out at about 42 weeks by the exam, so he really needed to come out when he did. I guess it was perfect timing.
She helped me have a shower and she weighed Glenn, and he was 9lb12 oz! I was surprised he was so big. Then baby and I had an herbal bath together and we got him all cleaned up.
She got us settled back in bed, checked me out and I was fine (just one small minor tear which I think has healed already) and when we were all happy and content she left. She’ll visit again to check on us later and we’re visiting the pediatrician on Monday for a baby check and his metabolic testing.
THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS
This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my whole life. The labor was fast, 2.5 hours, but was not too intense, in fact it was a breeze compared to pitocin labors. I couldn’t believe I was ready to push because I thought I hadn’t even reached transition yet. It was a wonderful labor.
Pushing out my baby into the world, in comfortable warm water with my babies sleeping and my big girl and my husband at my side was just so serene and such an awakening experience. I am on such a birth high from it all, such a buzz, and I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment. It was a truly perfect experience. I wish I could do it all over again! I had lost faith in my body’s ability for a while and this certainly has restored it! I was also reminded to wait on God’s perfect timing and to have more faith in his design.
Snuggling up and recovering afterwards in my own bed, without hospital food and nurses walking in and out all the time is possibly the best part of the whole thing.
I’m a private person and birth is such a private and intimate experience. It felt so right to do this in my own home, without feeling like I had an audience to perform to. I could make whatever noises I wanted to and walk wherever I wanted, pace around the house as I wished. It just felt right.
I feel so complete now, with my baby boy in arms and this experience under my belt. I thank and praise God for answering our prayers and giving us the desire of our hearts.
Nebraska has some strange and restrictive laws concerning midwifery. If you believe women should have more options and greater access to midwives please support Nebraska Friends of Midwives